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UN mission investigates possible fraud by Kosovo energy company

UN mission investigates possible fraud by Kosovo energy company

The United Nations mission in Kosovo today said it was investigating possible fraud by the province's energy company, involving €4.5 million (euros) of international aid money used to import electricity.

A senior official with the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said that after months of rumoured corruption by the KEK, he now had evidence of possible fraud and immediately contacted authorities at the European Anti-Fraud Office in Brussels.

"It is my firm belief that if we are to rebuild a functioning economy in Kosovo and if we are to have the sustainable economy that we so passionately want, corruption cannot be tolerated," said Andy Bearpark, who heads UNMIK's reconstruction and economic sector.

"Where we find evidence such as this we are ready to act swiftly to bring those responsible before the appropriate authorities," he stressed.

Meanwhile, UNMIK chief Michael Steiner visited central Gnjilane and nearby villages affected by last week's earthquake, in which one man was killed and dozens injured.

Mr. Steiner met members of the Gnjilane municipal crisis committee and visited Gornja Budriga and the Albanian-inhabited village of Zhegra, two of 17 villages that suffered serious material damage from the trembler that shook the area on 24 April.

The earthquake, which registered 5.6 on the Richter scale, has been followed by a series of aftershocks. Today Mr. Steiner said he would send seismological experts to the area to explain the phenomenon and address concerns about further earthquakes.

He also pledged that UNMIK would provide engineers to assess the structural damage and assist local experts in their work, and announced the establishment of a special earthquake relief fund, to which the Mission will contribute €500,000 (euros), in order to help the communities rebuild.

Mr. Steiner noted the good cooperation between international and local emergency services, and singled out the Kosovo Protection Corps (TMK) for performing commendably in carrying out the job it was established and trained to do as a civilian emergency response agency.